Healthier Together: Making connections, strengthening bonds between suicide loss survivors


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May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we are focusing on resources for suicide loss survivors.

It is a group of people who do not often get a lot of attention, and they face an unfair stigma compared to other people grieving the loss of a loved one. It’s important to know that the resources are out there.

"Ian was hilarious. He was very funny. He's someone that, when many times when people met him even if they just met him once, they remembered him," said Laura Nelson. 

Laura lost her son Ian to suicide nearly 10 years ago. He was just 28 years old.

"It was quite shocking and very unexpected; their hadn’t been a big build up," said Laura. "We were in regular contact, and he had a good living situation with friends and there were no red flags."

Laura found community and understanding through Crisis Connections.

"Laura’s story is very common, as well, because so many people lose a loved one to suicide, and they really didn’t see any signs and there may not have been any signs there," said Crisis Connections CEO Michelle McDaniel.

Michelle says the purpose of Crisis Connections is to connect people in physical, emotional and financial crisis to services that can help.

"Just know that you are not alone. You may feel isolated and alone—shame, guilt, confusion—this is what they call ‘complicated grief’ and that is normal, but you are not alone; and I would say please try not to walk this journey alone," said Michelle.

"When a suicide does happen despite prevention, despite family goodwill, despite the medical system or mental health system coming into play, then its seen as a failure on everybody's part; and there's a lot of stigma in not wanting to look at that that’s in my opinion," said Laura. "There's a special stigma attached to suicide and suicide loss survivors that doesn’t exist, as far as I know, in other contexts."

Laura has since turned her pain into her purpose.

"The worst thing that could possibly happen to me happened," said Laura.

Now, she is serving as a mentor through Crisis Connections.

"There's no one else to show you the way, really—suicide loss survivors have this commonality of experience," said Laura. "There are people who are willing to talk and willing, more importantly, to listen. Whatever you are feeling is what you’re feeling, feelings might not be facts, but they are true in the moment. Your loss is your loss and should be grieved, and can be grieved with an open heart and with help from others."


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